Unperturbed with defections Mayawati holds review meet for UP panchayat polls
Nearly two months after scotching rumours of a tie-up with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by announcing decision to contest 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls alone, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief, Mayawati has now tasked party cadres to ‘expose’ the ruling BJP governments in UP and Centre by holding small public meetings across the state.
Mayawati made the announcement while winding up the first of the district level review meetings convened by her at the BSP office in Lucknow on Wednesday.
Mayawati made it clear that the review meetings will continue even as she counselled the cadre on the line the party is to take during the panchayat poll campaign, party leaders said after the meeting.
She also asked the cadres to roll out a membership campaign ahead of the panchayat polls, likely to be held in April-May. The BSP will be contesting these rural polls, to be followed soon by the 2022 UP polls.
The review meetings and the decision to hold membership drive assumes significance as it has come amid a series of defections of important party leaders to the Samajwadi Party.
Mayawati reportedly collected details of the party's organisational preparedness from across all the 75 districts, though a communiqué issued by the BSP office after the meeting had no mention of the SP even though she targeted both the Congress and the BJP, describing them as two sides of the same coin.
Those who have quit the BSP and joined the SP included former BSP state president Dayaram Pal and ex-Ballia district chief Mithailal Bharati, former minister Kamlakant Gautam, who quit the BSP after its poor show in the 2017 assembly polls and merged his Rashtriya Bahujan Utthan Party with the SP, BSP's Meerut Mayor Sunita Verma, her husband and former BSP MLA from Hastinapur and former BSP minister Yogesh Verma.
However, party leaders said Mayawati didn’t appear too perturbed with the defections. “She knows that most defectors have realised that outside BSP they don’t have the same appeal. There could be some exceptions but usually, the BSP's committed vote bank and their belief in behenji is solid,” a party leader said.
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In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BSP had failed to open its account and for 2019 LS polls she had stitched an alliance with the Samajwadi Party, winning 10 seats. However, she later called off the alliance, leading to resumption of bitterness in SP-BSP ties.
Before the 2007 BSP win, Mayawati had been UP chief minister thrice, twice with BJP support and once with SP support.
On the occasion, she also tasked cadres with celebrating the birth anniversary of her mentor and party founder Kanshiram on March 15. A communiqué issued from the BSP office later said that Kanshiram’s anniversary will be celebrated while following covid protocols.